What Smokey The Bear can teach us about failure

Added on by B. Dickman.
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Remember Smokey the Bear? “Only you can prevent forest fires.” As a boy, that was my mantra.

I grew up in the dry, grey sagebrush hills of Southern California—the site of some of the worst fires in US history. Smokey convinced millions of Americans that fire was the deadly enemy of all animal and vegetable life. It was a dangerous force that must be eliminated, or it would indiscriminately destroy everything it its path.

When I went on summer camping trips with my family, my favorite job was making sure the fire was out. Dad helped me put on his thick hiking boots, then i’d jump into the concrete fire ring and stamp on the smoldering embers until every glowing spark was extinguished. It felt great, like I was killing a diamondback rattler, making sure it could never spite it’s fiery venom at innocent pine trees, jack rabbits or, God forbid, baby Bambi.  After Dad made sure that I had “assassinated” the fire, he’d say “good job” and I’d beam with pleasure. 

Unfortunately, Smokey’s strategy hasn’t been a great idea in the long term. Scientists now realize that fire is an essential part of the forest’s eco system. Fires help eliminate dead trees and underbrush; certain seed pods germinate only after being exposed to the high temperatures of forest fires.  

By preventing this natural fire cycle from occurring, dead trees and underbrush keep accumulating until the entire forest is a huge tinder box waiting to explode. Smokey’s strategy leads not to healthy forests and Nature in balance, but even larger and deadlier fires.  

So the US Forestry Department has a new policy. Forest fires are no longer seen as bad or “evil”; trying to prevent all fires is not only impossible, but undesirable. Fire is now understood to be a natural part of a healthy forest system. 

The equivalent of “fire” in business 

What’s the equivalent of fire in business? What do most business leaders stomp down on, hard

The fear of making a mistake. 

Mistake-making and forest fires have a lot in common. Both seem to come out of nowhere. Both are unpredictable. And both fires and mistakes make leaders feel like they’re no longer in control.

Often fearful subordinates try to hide mistakes, problems or obstacles from bosses. The result—as with Smokey—can be bigger losses down the road. 

Business consultant Steve Schlabs reports that, in big organizations, a salesforce is usually the group closet to the customer. Salespeople deal with the everyday concerns customers have with the product. Salespeople know what’s working with the product and what’s not. This is vital information to the leaders of a company. 

However that information is often not delivered, or worse distorted, because sales people are afraid. They don’t want to be blamed for a problem in the product, or have their jobs threatened by their superiors because they “just can’t sell.” So small problems easily fixed go unchecked until a crisis happens. Mistrust between salespeople and their bosses can cause huge business disasters.

Here’s a better way

Develop a culture of curiosity. Look at patterns of behavior. Allow the people who are closest to the customer to speak openly, without feeling like they are jeopardizing their jobs. Instead of having a stomp-down culture, ask “Are all mistakes bad?” “Can failure lead to greater opportunity?” “Would learning more quickly about a product or interpersonal problem lead to a better outcome?”

Smokey’s bosses have changed their tune, and so can you. Imagine the bear in the hat: “Only You Can Inspire Curiosity and Challenge Old Thinking.”

Through A Glass Darkly

Added on by B. Dickman.

“We read the world wrong and say it deceives us”

                            -Rabindranath Tagore 

Business Week conducted a survey. It asked thousands of business managers to self rate themselves regarding their competence and skills when leading others. 90% of the managers who responded placed themselves in the top 10% regarding their skills and abilities.

Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, was speaking at a large medical conference. There were over 300 doctors in the audience. Marshall asked by a show of hands how many were in the top 50% of their graduating class.  Every physician raised their hand. Marshall paused for a moment looked hard at the audience, smiled and said “According to the laws of statistics this is highly improbable.” The audience laughed back nervously.

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”Through a glass darkly” That’s how the bible describes human ability to see reality. Another way of looking at this is to say that we all have blind spots regarding seeing ourselves and how we view the world.  We think that we are seeing what is actually there but forget we are wearing a dark pair of sunglasses with distorted lens. And everyone has a different pair of glasses with unique distortions moulded by our own experiences, traumas, travails and cultural conditioning.

Here are five actions we can take to act more effectively:

  1. A big step into the light, is to assume that we don’t  see reality as it actually is especially when we are in high stakes situations.
  2. Slow down your decision making especially when you find yourself talking rapidly, breathing shallowly, and having an overwhelming sense you are right. 
  3. Understand that we make decisions based on how we feel as well as our rational reasoning. Thinking that we can exclude emotions from our decisions is folly. Emotions informs our rational brain and helps us make decisions. 

   The more we pay attention to those feelings the more likely we can understand the effect that emotions have on our world view. Conversely, the more we deny awareness of our emotions the more likely they will unconsciously influence our perceptions

  1. Hire a coach who is dedicated to helping you understand your blind spots and is engaged in giving you clear feedback on your performance.
  2. Even when there is enormous pressure for a decision take the time to breathe. Slow deep breaths engage the parasympathetic nervous system that allows greater blood flow to the brain and signals that we are not under extreme threat to either flee, freeze or fight.

Empty Handed

Added on by Bob Dickman.

I want to tell you a story about two different types of communication. The year is 2002. A group of Silicon Valley billionaires is backing a new museum for the California Academy of Science. The money’s not a problem; the land’s prepared. The question is, who can build a building that turns the world on its ear?

After an intense search and deliberation, the competition was down to two, both great architects. The first was a Brit by the name of Sir Norman Foster. Foster was—and is—a giant in the field; he’s designed buildings around the world. You might know a building of his, a skyscraper in the middle of London’s financial district affectionately nicknamed “The Gherkin.” (Personally, I think it looks more like Buck Rogers’ rocket ship than a pickle) Foster’s competition was Renzo Piano, an Italian of equal renown. Renzo designed the George Pompidou Center, a one hundred thousand square foot building carved into the heart of downtown Paris.

Norman Foster—Authority in Action

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The two finalists were asked to make a presentation in front of the Academy’s board. The first presenter was Foster. He came well prepared, with a beautiful scale model of his proposed design. Foster meticulously showed how each part of his model would interact; he spoke forcefully about the amazing materials to be used, the fact that buildings spew more toxins into our atmosphere than cars, and how imperative it is to design in sustainability. Each of Foster’s points was underlined by projected slides, and mounted renderings, moved this way and that by his army of assistants. When the hours-long presentation was over, the Academy’s Board was quite impressed, if not, completely worn out. Such attention to detail! Such authority! Such control over his subject matter! How could Renzo top that?

Renzo Piano arrived a day later. When he entered the presentation room he had no model, or even pictures of his model. Thinking that the model must be on its way, one of his hosts asked if he would prefer to wait a bit. Renzo smiled, and said that the only thing he needed was a large pad of white paper and an easel.

“But where is your model?” a Board member asked.

“Here,” Piano said, tapping his forehead.

Renzo Piano—“We are having a conversation.”

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For all his accomplishments, the Italian is an unprepossessing figure. He is a small-framed man who holds himself in a relaxed and welcoming manner, and when the presentation began, Piano was silent for a while. He smiled and acknowledged the audience…then began to talk.

Piano spoke about the building as if it were his intimate friend. He suggested that this building would be alive in the same way that nature is alive. He spoke of how this building could breathe. As Piano said this, he began to draw pictures illustrating what he meant—not full-color, impressive renderings like Foster had prepared, but drawings, sketches really, that conveyed feeling. The audience began to see and sense the life force in these drawings. They hung on Piano’s every word, and learned as he, quietly but with great intensity, talked with, not at them. Honest to God, they began to see how an inanimate object could actually breathe.

Piano’s drawings were surprising, accessible, beautiful. He spoke about the power of beauty—that it was not sentimental, but a force equal to power and aggression. True beauty, rooted in nature its laws, was actually even greater than that, because it had the power to transform, to inspire. People in the room were able to see into his creative process; new forms and ideas kept spilling out until the entire room became a part of his narrative web.

As Piano finished, a stillness enveloped the room; the Board was leaning forward in their chairs. He had captured everyone’s imagination. He was so present, that the people in the room sensed something being born, right in front of their eyes. The audience didn’t feel cajoled or worn down or convinced; they felt thrilled, enthralled. Renzo Piano, with his broken English and Italian accent, brought light to that room and in so doing had transformed everyone in it.

The Power of Conversation

Need I say what happened next? Renzo Piano was awarded the contract. His California Academy of Science Museum now sits in the center of Golden Gate Park. Renzo had prevailed not because he was smarter than Foster—both men are geniuses—but because his style of communication worked more effectively.

Piano’s triumph wasn’t all about him, any more than a conversation is only about one person; it was the Board that decided. In the next update, I’ll tell you exactly how Piano won the day. Then I’ll explain how you can use this same type of communication in your own business.

Special thanks to: Ron Pompei at Pompei AD and Andy Klemmer at Paratus Group for helping me with the history of the story.

Harnessing the Power of Story/Brand to Create Revenue Workshop

Join Bob and Pat Pattison for their Harnessing the Power of Story/Brand to Create Revenue workshop on Wednesday, March 28. More info here: http://fv-mar-28-12.eventbrite.com/

This must be Toesday

Added on by Bob Dickman.

Recently a client of mine who once worked for a big firm told me an interesting story. One morning, she was summoned to a large meeting. After everyone had gathered, the COO spoke in a reassuring way, indicating that yes business was down, but no downsizing was planned. My client wasn’t buying it.

After the meeting, my client asked to have a word with the COO in private. When they were alone, she got right to the point. “So Jim—how many of us are getting laid off?”

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The COO gawped at her. “How did you know?” “Every time you try to hide bad news,” my client replied, “you look down at your toes.”

Brain scientists and social anthropologists tell us that human beings are storytelling creatures. People are continuously transmitting stories—whether they know it or not. And the more aware leaders become of their hidden story giveaways, the more authentic, trustworthy, and credible they become.

Just imagine if Jim hadn’t looked down at his toes. Instead, he’d come forward and said, “As you know, the company is facing a downturn and, sadly, we will be letting people go. The leadership team has struggled with how best to tell you this. We felt that you deserve the most up-to-date, accurate information possible, which is why I’m giving it to you straight. We will be making every effort to help those who will be leaving the company.”

Even though this would be a difficult speech to give, it would preserve credibility for Jim and the company’s senior team. Credibility not only enhances a company’s ability to weather tough times, it gives all parties the maximum number of options. Who knows—perhaps in six months, the company will be able to re-hire some or all of the layoffs? Who would want to return to a company whose leaders deceived or patronized its workforce?

It’s precisely when tough messages must be conveyed that businesspeople must be most conscious of their storytelling. The right stories help leaders lead; and you can’t lead if you’re looking down at your toes!

Success Really Does Breed Success

Added on by Bob Dickman.

In the mid-80s, a group of grad students at the University of Minnesota wanted to see if people would learn more quickly from success or failure. So they selected two bowling teams matched closely in experience, age, physical characteristic of bowlers, et cetera. One group was “Team A,” the other “Team B.” Then, the students videotaped a whole seasonʼs worth of tournaments. From these recorded tournaments, the students created two edited video tapes. The first tape showed only the mistakes that “Team A” members made—holding oneʼs breath; releasing the ball incorrectly; or visibly losing focus after a disappointing game. The second video, however, showed “Team B” members doing things right.

After each video was shown to the relevant team, the team members were encouraged to talk among themselves about what they had learned, and what if anything they wanted to change. Almost immediately both teams began to tell each other stories. The big difference was that “Team A” produced a series of painful, negative stories while the positive tape produced a much more optimistic appraisal of success for “Team B.”

Both teams improved their game after seeing their video. However “Team B”—the ones who got the “success” mixtape—improved their score 38% faster than “Team A.”

Bowlers learn more quickly and effectively by focusing on their success rather than their failures.

This same experiment has now been replicated with other sports, with similar results. Great golfers find it far more effective to visualize a shot going straight down the middle toward the center of the green, than saying over and over, “What ever you do, donʼt hit it into the rough.”

These studies form the basis of a new field of organizational development: Appreciative Inquiry (http://bit.ly/qd3l1) Appreciative Inquiry, developed by David Cooperrider(http://bit.ly/qa29FI) and his associates, has found that people within organizations find it more productive to focus on what is working well—what is vital and successful within a business—rather than what is defective, deficient and destructive. In his work, participants are asked to tell stories of actual successful and vital events. What did those events actually look and feel like? The more specific the better.

AI says that what individuals and organizations focus on becomes reality; and the stories that are told within the organization reinforce that reality. The next time youʼre feeling stuck, visualize the outcome you want.

Say youʼre anxious to close a deal with a client. Hereʼs a few tips to move towards a positive mindset:

  • Think like “Team B”: recall a time when you closed that deal—when you were feeling vital, happy and successful.
  • In your mind, flesh out the details of that success. How were you feeling? What were you thinking? How were you behaving towards your client, and yourself?
  • Visualize doing more of what made you successful.
  • Now put that visualization into practice, and close this deal, too!

Bob is a certified executive coach. He helps managers and their teams become more successful by improving how they think and talk. Contact Bob at: bob@first-voice.com

What Lady Macbeth Can Teach Doctors

Added on by Bob Dickman.

Thereʼs a big problem in hospitals: patients are dying when they donʼt have to. According to Dr. Richard Pascale, Associate Fellow at Oxford University, “Twenty thousand Americans die every year because they are in a hospital and are exposed to a bacteria immune to antibiotics.” Thatʼs like a plane crash every week—and it doesnʼt have to happen. The culprit is called MERA; itʼs a type of multi-resistant Staph which spreads when health care givers forget to wash their hands. Interestingly, men and women at the top of the medical hierarchy—doctors—forget more often than nurses, EMT or orderlies.

Many hospitals have tried posting stats in hallways; others actually levy fines. But neither approach has helped. (Whatʼs next? Maybe a picture of Lady Macbeth?)

Dr. Pascaleʼs approach was simple. First, he discovered a small VA hospital where there had been a 60% reduction in MERA. Then, he didnʼt talk to the administrators or doctors, but gathered stories from the people below—the orderlies, the patients. One patient said, “When I hears that squish sound”—someone using the disinfectant pump —“I sigh with relief.”

This and other stories led to two changes in hospital procedures. First, the hospital moved the dispensers from behind the bed to in front, so patients could see who was disinfecting before touching them. Next, administrators encouraged both patients and family members to speak up—a friendly, “Hey doc, please wash your hands.” This bottom-up approach has done wonders.

Who in your company has the least power? Perhaps itʼs your customers or assembly operators or your maintenance people. It might surprise and inspire you to spend some time asking them how they see the world and what steps can be taken to make your organization more vital and productive. The results might make you sigh with relief.

There Will Be Stories

Added on by Bob Dickman.

I was hired by the head of an oil company to help a particular refinery improve itʼs safety standards. Accidents had been occurring at an alarming rate over the last few years. This was well above the OSHA standards. The head of the refinery had tried to use financial rewards and punishments in a carrot and stick approach to improving safety. He monetarily rewarded the crews with the lowest accident rates while fining those who had more problems. He was confident that this would bring results. His motto was “Unleash capitalist principles to bring greater safety.” It sounded great but after a year of using his program, the safety record was only marginally improved.

I suggested that I be allowed to interview the crews with the best safety record. I wanted to learn what they were doing right. What I discovered was that the stories of safe and effective procedures were being told to everyone on the team. For instance, a problem had arisen when crew members needed to select specific tools for a job. New crew members could get confused or feel rushed in selecting the correct wrench. They were reluctant to ask too many questions for fear of sounding “dumb” Consequently oil lines were improperly being shut down with the resulting unexpected pressures and potential fires.

One resourceful crew member painted the needed wrench bright blue. This visual cue made clear which wrench to select, even for neophytes. The crew chief made sure that this story was told to everyone, especially the newer crew members. The chief also urged his team to collect more safety stories and pass them on. Top management working with each platform chief adopted the policy of capturing and telling success and safety stories. The last time I checked, the refinery had a zero accident rate after 14 months of instigating this program.

It is human nature that everyone wants to feel safe. Financial incentives may not help or even get in the way. Instead, I suggest doing three things. First share stories of what is working well in your company. Second, make sure these stories are told again and again to all members of the team. Finally, let your team know that stories of success are welcome and appreciated.

Change is tough in any organization. Make sure that positive events in your culture are turned into stories about how problems get solved. Then encourage that these stories be told with passion and frequency.

The Tail that Launched a Thousand Ships

Added on by Bob Dickman.

These are tough times and most of us are being pressured to do without or do with less. So how is it possible that millions of people suddenly became concerned for the welfare of a single small brown and white terrier -so involved that the US Navy and Coast Guard were reluctantly pressured to send in ships and aircraft.

What force of nature could cause all this commotion? Why a story of course...

Bob has the ability to help you connect with your "Stories" - more importantly he helps explain in detail how to construct and tell the stories needed for all individuals and organizations. Prior to Bob's workshop I was struggling with the transformational description of myself and newly formed business. Bob's ability to "Listen" and connect me to my mind’s eye has allowed me to create a great and needed personal story. This newly formed story has the clarity and impact needed to help my clients and customers understand what our message is.
—Dr. Dale Deardorff Former Director of Strategic Thinking, Boeing

Join Bob in his Find Your Business Story Workshop on Sept. 22 and mobilize your forces: http://fybs-sept-22.eventbrite.com/

A Little More Gary Cooper, A Little Less Daffy Duck

Added on by Bob Dickman.

My client Jim was in trouble because he couldnʼt get a job. Jim was a skillful consultant with a Ph.D. in psychology, and had been working in the financial world as a highly paid advisor to one specific firm for almost 10 years. This one client generated more than 90% of his income. He loved his job, and the firm rewarded his efforts with a steadystream of work.

Until the board of directors replaced the firmʼs CEO. The new CEO wanted “a clean slate” — and Jim lost his job.

Jim began scrambling to find new consulting gigs. He was getting interviews but no callbacks, and no offers. He hired me to help him figure out what was going wrong.

When I conducted a mock interview, I noticed one damaging behavior: Jim could not stop talking. Even after something as simple and innocuous as “Why do you want this job?” or “Tell me about yourself,” the torrent began. Jimʼs speech was so rapid fire, itʼs amazing he was able to breathe!

Finally, I gently cut him off and asked if he remembered what my original question had been. He had no memory of why he was talking.

Jim is not alone in this behavior. Leaders are rewarded for taking charge and speaking up. This starts in school, which can seem like a game of “Jeopardy!”—the kid who hits the buzzer first, wins the prize. What child gets rewarded for thinking more slowly, deliberating or reflecting? And as we grow up, things only get more competitive. Add to this conditioning the additional stress of really wanting to impress the interviewer, and itʼs easy to see why listening is a dying art.

I asked Jim to rent a few westerns made in the 40ʼs and 50ʼs. I suggested “High Noon” In this film Gary Cooper, the local sheriff is confronted with the knowledge that a gang of killers will be coming to his town in a few days. The train will arrive at noon. Cooper tries to recruit others in the town to help him stand up to the bad guys, but everyone turns him down, and he is forced to face the murderous gang alone. Cooperʼs dialogue is sparse, direct and to the point. His ability to hold the silence makes him powerful. We know that the other characters are weak because they cannot look him in the eye or stop stammering excuses. There is no question he is the hero and the power of his silence proves it.

Lessons to practice when meeting new people, especially in high-stakes situations:

• Become aware of any stress, anxiety, or pressure to impress well before the meeting takes place. • At the meeting, really listen to the questions being asked. Hold them in your mind for a few seconds before responding. • If you arenʼt clear on a question, ask for clarification before you answer. • If you find yourself talking a lot, ask yourself “Why am I talking?”

[These tips should help you avoid this common communication error, and really connect. The next interview Jim had, he talked less, said more—and got the job!]

Or something like this.

Bob has scheduled his next workshop for September 22. Sign up now and take advantage of the early bird discount. And don't miss out, we had to turn people away from the last workshop! Get all the info here: Finding Your Business Story

You probably will never see this....

Added on by Bob Dickman.

I see it everywhere—in clients, friends, even myself: a feeling of being overwhelmed by information. Email, social media, phone calls, coming at them 24 hours a day, every day. “Did you get my email?” “Who knows? I get 300 of them a day.”

One client sums it up like this: “I’m being crushed by all this information. It’s gotten so bad that in the morning I dread turning on my computer and seeing how many new messages I’ve gotten. I don’t need any more information. What I need is meaning, context—something that helps me make sense of my world.”

What helps create more meaning? A well-crafted story, grounded in experience. Remember that stories don’t have to be long. Stories can do more than entertain; they inform, educate and inspire. The right story at the right time can change your world for the better. They can help you stand out in our era of too much information.

Come and practice telling your business story at my next workshop on June 30th. Only 2 slots left before the workshop is filled. Grab them here. (http://june-find-your-story.eventbrite.com)

Have you checked the pulse of your story?

Added on by Bob Dickman.

More than 60% of the companies originally listed on the Fortune 500 have vanished. All these casualties of capitalism have one thing in common: they lost their story, then they lost market share. Just a few years ago Ford was in a pickle.

Ford has been one of the most successful, iconic businesses in the United States. It’s been building automobiles for almost 100 years and its brand is recognized around the world. Yet in 2003 and ‘04 pundits were talking about the real possibility that Ford could go out of business. Ford’s old story of building tough trucks and SUV’s at the exclusion of smaller, more fuel efficient cars was not working. The company had alienated many younger customers, especially women. People were turning to other carmakers like Toyota and Honda. These companies were telling stories that appealed to a younger, more diverse base.

So Ford did something courageous it hired a new CEO by the name of Alan Mulally.

Alan was not an auto industry insider. He came from aerospace -- with a fresh new story. His story was simple: “We are going to build highly efficient, high quality cars and trucks. They will be safe, innovative, fun to drive.” He also borrowed several billion dollars from private sources before the financial collapse of 2008/09. This put Ford ahead of its US competition and the company followed through with new products that resonated with Mulally’s new story. After years of losing market share, Ford became profitable again in late 2009.

Companies that have survived and thrived have powerful, vibrant narratives that give them a strong sense of community and identity. These stories make people care and understand what these companies really stand for. If you want a business that will last, start with a great story. If you want to make sure your current venture survives, fix the story first.

What's your business story? Are you making people care? Are you creating community? Do people know what your company stands for?

Join our community of storytellers on June 30th to breathe more life into your business! Sign up by June 15th (just 3 days left!!) and get the early bird discount.

Sign up here. (http://june-find-your-story.eventbrite.com/)

Find Your Story - Early Bird Tickets

Added on by Bob Dickman.

There are only two weeks left to get your early bird discount. Sign up now! Recently Lynda Resnick, the CEO of a two billion dollar conglomerate whose brands include Fiji Water, Teleflora, and POM Wonderful, stated the principle behind her success. “I donʼt do companies that donʼt have a story. If they donʼt have a story, they donʼt have a business.”

Sign up here: http://june-find-your-story.eventbrite.com/

In this four hour, interactive workshop you will learn to tell a story which…

  • …makes others care about whatʼs important to you;
  • …differentiates yourself from your competition;
  • …speaks to the challenges that face your clients, manager or direct reports;
  • …transforms trying to convince people into having them see new possibilities;
  • …enrolls new clients and co-workers.

Past participants in this workshop have included attorneys, accountants, coaches, managers, engineers, entertainment executives, officers of non-profits, entrepreneurs, and even actual rocket scientists. It can help you, too!

Finding hidden treasure

Added on by Bob Dickman.

The people we work with every day are often the ones we know the least about - usually they have hidden talents & skills that would enrich our business and personal lives.  Here's an example of that: Jim was a CEO of a manufacturing company based in Chicago. One day, one of his employees, a janitor named Helen, suddenly died. That made Jim sad—then he was amazed to read that over 5000 people went to the womanʼs funeral, including a reporter from The Chicago Tribune. To Jim, Helen was just a janitor—but her full story was much, much more.

For twenty years, after the workday was over, Helen had been a choir director. She had organized and trained ten choirs at ten different churches. It was this life outside of work —a life her bosses knew nothing about—that made Helenʼs entire community turn out to pay its respects.

Jim contacted Helenʼs husband, to give his condolences. “Your wife was remarkable,” Jim said. “She mustʼve really been inspiring to people.” “Yes. And she had great organizational skills,” Helenʼs husband said. “Our company needs people like that. I wish Iʼd known!” From now on, Jim thought to himself, Iʼm going to know the total employee, not just what they do from nine-to-five. My company will discover and encourage gifted people who will share their stories and, whenever possible, support the entire person.

As a leader, do you know what your employees care about away from the office? Do you understand what inspires them or keeps them up late at night? How do you encourage your employees to break down “silos” and share their stories? How do you motivate your people to enrich and vitalize the work culture?

One program Jim started was a bi-monthly lunch where employees were encouraged to share who they were and what they did. People became interested in each otherʼs activities and projects. The most worthy projects were awarded grants from the organization and drew volunteers from all levels of the company. Jim has noticed an improved morale with more loyal employees, who stay with the company longer.

Join me at my Finding Your Story Workshop and release your hidden treasure!

(P.S. if that link doesn't work, copy and paste this one: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1742974283)

Stories From Clay

Added on by B. Dickman.

 

My mom was a sculptor. I remember seeing her working the clay in the early morning light. Her face was forceful yet serene during the creative ritual of folding and refolding, mashing and smoothing the mixture as she added the right amounts of clay and water. Finally she’d smile—the clay had begun to take on her vitality; it was ready to become a woman’s torso; a roadrunner in pursuit of a snake; an Indian dancer clad in gold. The sculptor works the clay to get the consistency right, to work out any air bubbles. This is a physical process, but it’s also a mental warm up - getting ready to mold the clay. Like clay, storytelling is malleable, plastic, alive. Most stories won’t come out right the first time you tell them (or the second or third time, for that matter), but that’s okay! You can change it.

One of the biggest challenges I face when coaching new clients is getting them to open up and tell their stories, imperfections and all. They want the story to be perfect the first time around. Through our work together, they discover that stories are living, breathing things that will change and improve over time.

Here are a few steps to make your stories come alive:

  • When you feel that your story isn’t perfect, tell it anyways! Tell it to yourself, tell it to your cat, your dog, a friendly tree. If you’re feeling self-conscious about talking to yourself while walking down the street, just put in your earbuds or Bluetooth. People will think you’re talking on your cell phone!
  • Once you’ve built some confidence telling your story to sympathetic trees, it’s time to find a friend or two (5-10 really, but who’s counting?). Tell them your story and ask for feedback. What caught their attention? What parts dragged and need to be cut out? Tell them that they can’t hurt your feelings, and that the worst feedback is no feedback (generic “I liked it” or “it was ok” responses do not count as feedback). Take in what they tell you and use what works for you. And most importantly, keep telling the story. Practice makes perfect.
  • Now you’re ready for primetime! Tell your story in front of a networking group, open a presentation with it, use it in a media interview. You have the confidence to tell a compelling story.

Stories aren’t written in stone (at least not for the last few thousand years!). Successful stories are vital, malleable, and alive. Remember, when your story…

  • brings passion
  • has a clear point of view
  • articulates the challenge
  • and delivers a new solution

…you can change the world!

Business Lessons From An NYPD Homicide Cop

Added on by B. Dickman.

 

Jerry Giorgio is affectionately called Big Daddy Uptown by his colleagues due to his ability to get confessions from even the most hardened criminals. You might be surprised to learn he doesn’t water board, use a rubber hose, or even resort to verbal abuse. His secret weapon is more powerful; it's storytelling. “You’ve heard of ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ I don’t need the bad cop. I’m always the good cop because deep down everybody wants to tell his or her story. No matter how damaging it is or how important it is to remain quiet, suspects want to tell their story. The secret is to get the suspects talking. The stream of words will eventually flow to the truth.” If Big Daddy Uptown can get hardened criminals to open up, think how much easier it is for you to get your customers, clients, and managers to open up and tell their story.  The urge to tell a story is innate and powerful, it only takes a little coaxing to get most people to start sharing.*

The advantages to getting people to share their story is profound; You learn what they really care about. You discover their concerns and challenges.  You understand what's on their mind and in their hearts. Actively listening to people opens the door to a deeper, longer term relationship. While listening you gain trust and the hidden knowledge to close the deal

So, what can you do to draw someone’s story out?  Here are a couple of quick tips:

Ask them three questions:

  • What’s vital and important for you to accomplish?
  • What’s getting in your way?
  • How can I help?

These questions are designed to prompt people to tell their story. Like Big Daddy, be prepared to really listen.   You’ll be amazed to discover how much you learn.

Take your communication to the next level with Bob’s Communicating With Passion And Clarity Workshop coming May 19th.

If the above link isn't working copy and paste the following into your browser: http://firstvoice-may19-11.eventbrite.com/

*Source material from "The Dark Art of Interrogation" by Mark Boden, published in The Atlantic Monthly

NY Times Post: Tell A Story

Added on by Bob Dickman.

NY Times article today stresses that successful businesses thrive because they have an exciting story to tell:http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/trying-to-connect-with-customers-tell-a-story/?ref=business

The only way to get good at telling your story and inspiring people with it is to practice. And it's even better to practice with people who understand how to give useful feedback. Come to Bob's Story Tune-Up Workshop and practice telling your story!

Less than 1 week left before Story Tune-Up Workshop begins, sign up here: http://march24-story-tune-up.eventbrite.com/

Tell to Win

Added on by Bob Dickman.

Every once in a while something comes along that you want to share.I've just read a galley of Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story, and itʼs unlike any business/self-help book Iʼve ever read. Itʼs entertaining, informative and transformative. Written by Peter Guber, Tell to Win teaches you how to tell emotionally resonant stories to persuade, motivate, excite and incite others to your goal for success. Most importantly, it provides the impetus for them to viral market it for you. It delivers tools and takeaways that you can use today to change your tomorrow.

If you think telling “purposeful stories” is fluff or only relevant for bedtime stories, these masters in their fields—everyone from Bill Clinton to Pat Riley—will convince you otherwise.

You probably know Peter's name: he's produced/executive produced Batman, Rain Man, Gorillas in the Mist, Flashdance and The Color Purple. He's been Studio Chief at Columbia Pictures and Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures; his current venture, Mandalay Entertainment Group, recently acquired the Golden State Warriors. Suffice to say, my friend Peter is somebody to listen to.

The book will be published March 1, 2011 from Crown/Random House. If you order prior to March 1, 2011, you gain access to a digital gift bag chock-full of leadership, marketing and social media resources.

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This is a great book. I look forward to hearing of your success when you Tell To Win.

"From my muscles"

Added on by Bob Dickman.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is nearly Spring and, according to ancient Chinese five-element wisdom, Spring is the time for new growth, vision and creativity. It is the time to develop new ideas and expand enterprises. As the purple lilac blooms, and tiny green seedlings push through the warm soft earth, take a moment and reflect: where do new ideas come from? Albert Einstein was asked this very question one beautiful Spring morning, while he and a reporter strolled through the campus of Princeton: “Where do your ideas come from?” Einstein stopped for a moment. “From my muscles,” he replied with a smile. “Yes, they come from my muscles.”

Einstein paid attention to processes and patterns that most of us dismiss or ignore. Muscles contract and expand; so, apparently, does the Universe. Einstein was a genius in the original form of that term: someone awake to the universal spirit within.